Face it. The world has changed. Social media marketing has become a wonderful tool for spreading the word about everything from books to yogurt. But how does one use it to the best advantage?
The first step is understanding what social media is and what it is not. Let’s take each word individually as defined by Webster’s:
- Social: marked by or passed in pleasant companionship with friends or associates
- Media: a method of cultivation, conveyance, or expression
- Marketing: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
Social media marketing means spending pleasant time cultivating friends and promoting products. It’s a two-part process. First, friendship; then, selling. If you do it right, you will rarely have to put your products out there. Your friends will be talking about them for you, and you, in turn, will be talking about their products.
Social media is not just for announcing upcoming releases, posting links to books, or purchasing ad space–although we’ll talk about all those things–it is for building friendships with a group of people who are passionate about your books and whom you are passionate about in return.
Many people believe that time spent on Facebook, Twitter, in the blogosphere, and on message boards making and socializing with friends is wasted, but the truth is quite the contrary. By making friends with readers, authors are growing their potential fan base and rallying their supporters. This results not only in meeting lots of really interesting people, but in support for your endeavors. People who know you online will be more likely to read your books, leave reviews, and spread the word to their friends.
That last part is crucial: spreading the word. Social media marketing is the modern equivalent of word of mouth.
Let’s say, you tweet about your new book to 5 Twitter friends. They read it and love it. Those 5 people tweet about how much they loved your book to their 5 friends. Suddenly, 25 more people have heard about your book. And it goes on from there. It’s like word of mouth on speed.
In the next month or so, I’ll be blogging about the ways I use social media to make friends and to share my books with them. I’ll be offering specific methods and giving examples of what to do and what not to do. I’ll talk about what’s worked for me and what hasn’t.
If you haven’t done so already, go set up a Twitter account, get a Facebook author page, and resurrect that blog. It’s time to learn how to use these tools to improve your sales, but more importantly, make lifelong friends.
Note: I’ve just been introduced to Google+ and am excited about the possibilities there. It seems to have the best features of Facebook and the marketing outreach power of Twitter. You should check that out and add me to your circles.